Why you should use screen recordings in your next video

Screen recording your IT product can be the difference between a sign-up or a bounce from your website. Here's why we encourage screen recordings for our IT and consulting firm clients' videos.

Our clients often ask us about integrating screen recordings with a cringe on their face. They're not sure if it's possible, and if it is, they're certain it's difficult to do. It's not! And it's actually a great idea to have screen recordings embedded in your video content. Here are our reasons: 

Show your product off

It's the obvious path but often the one that our previous clients are hesitant to engage in. We have found that this is usually because the product has not been finished.

But when we say 'that doesn't matter', that familiar cringe mixed with a quizzical look then spreads across the dial. But it really doesn't matter, at all. 

If all you have is screenshots of your product, we can bring them to life with animations of cursors, a tablet user, whatever you need.

A video we completed in 2015 only had a wireframe of the e-learning product finished, the hyperlinks didn't even work! But we were able to get into the test environment and our savvy animators followed instructions, recorded their screens and captured the essence of the environment expertly. 

Ultimately, like any video, the key message should be how the product benefits the user. We never stray from that key tenet. But having a semblance of what the product does, or even just how it looks is a very powerful way into the minds of your potential customers. 

It is actually easy

Like I said, it's not hard. Our animators are adept at using screen recording software programs, like Screenflow by Telestream.

It's a great piece of software that allows seamless editing, graphics, call-outs and more to be recorded and edited in only minutes. (And nope, they're not paying me to say that, they're just that good). 

Here's a couple example of videos that we produced that used screenflow recordings and integrated them into a use-case narrative for the viewer. 

As you can see, the GovSpend video is pure screen recording. This is a good method of showing the product to internal stakeholders, or users who are already onboarded. 

There's no need for flashy framing, animation or overlays for people who are already know the product. What matters more is a clear walkthrough of the utility of the software itself.

The Capability Central recordings were allowed to be more 'flashy' because the clients were not yet familiar with the software. 

Fun fact: this is an example of a video we made, where the product was not yet finished. We are quite proud that we were able to make it come to life!

I often talk about 'opening the door' to potential customers. Let them in and have a look around, be it through live action video or animation. Recording your product (working or not), is a great way to open that door.  

Until next time,

Pete

PS - have you tried to record your IT product before? It can be tedious and time consuming without the right know-how. 

We love tedium and we know how to do it, so get in touch.

 

 

How the production story of 'Back to the Future' can help you (and us) make great videos


This post will explain how the Director and production team overcame two massive challenges in making 'Back to the Future' and how these lessons can be applied to making top-quality video content.

My all time favourite Hollywood film is 'Back to the Future'. It's one of the most endearing and innovative films of its time (despite some flaws). It mixes science-fiction, romance, nostalgia, action and adventure into a cohesive and engaging story.

'Back to the Future' isn't the only film to have struggled in its production. 'Apocalypse Now' is renowned as the nightmarish misadventure of Francis Ford Coppola and leading man Martin Sheen - entering their own Heart of Darkness and barely making it out alive.

But what you might not know is that there were various hiccups in the production of
'Back to the Future' that, if not overcome, would have halted the production altogether - depriving us of an all-time classic. 

1. Not good enough? Start again

While Michael J. Fox was the first choice to play Marty McFly, he was caught up filming the sitcom 'Family Ties' (remember that show!?). As such he was restricted by the producers of the show in his scheduling, because filming a sitcom was basically a full-time job, and then some.  

As a result, the producers of 'Back to the Future' settled on Eric Stoltz after being impressed with his performance in 'Mask' (no, not 'The Mask'!). 

It became clear after 5-6 weeks of shooting, and reviewing footage, however, that Stoltz was not the right man for the job.

Reportedly, he was 'method' in his acting style, and insisted on being called 'Marty' on set, even when not shooting. It was decided that he was too serious for the quasi-comedic role, and his acting style did not match the script, despite an admirable performance.

Director Bob Zemeckis made the heartbreaking decision to fire him, and reshoot six weeks of footage with Michael J. Fox (now being allowed to work on both projects - hectic!).  

So what's to learn from this? 

If something is not working - do everything you can to make it work, even if that means starting again. 

Like any company, we have faced numerous challenges in some of our productions, which can lead to a first draft we are not super psyched about.

So what do we do? We go back, and we fix it.

On one occasion, we were forced to scrap an entire script because it was not hitting the mark for the aim of the video. (It was around about the time that I decided to hire professional script writers and not micromanage this part of the process!).

It was a tough decision - many hours of work had gone into it. But you must place your ego to the side on occasions like this, for the benefit of a superior end product. 

So whilst Eric Stoltz did a fine job in his style, it was not fine for the broader film's tone and direction. Thankfully, Fox's portrayal is iconic and memorable - the right decision was made in his casting. 

2. Push through bad ideas

There seemingly and endless stream of trivia about 'Back to the Future' and the production and initial draft ideas that were scrapped or rejected, for the better. Here are a couple of funny, but bad ideas:

The refrigerator 

As you probably know, even if you haven't seen the film - the time machine used is a modified and supercharged DeLorean. A unique and mobile stainless steel beast that is now an icon of science fiction cinema.

The first drafts of the script, however, had Marty fleeing 1955 in a modified refrigerator using nuclear radiation energy to transport him through time.

Executive Producer Steven Spielberg decided to pressure the writers to scrap this idea, fearing that young children would start locking themselves in fridges.

Probably a wise decision - but obviously that fear wore off, as he used that device in his 2008 film 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull', as the titular character escapes death by taking refuge in a lead-lined fridge. Hmmm....

Spaceman from Pluto

This is a particularly funny one. Senior film studio executives had trouble with the title of the film 'Back to the Future' saying it was too confusing.

At one point in the film, a child in 1955 is reading a comic book, with a subtitle
'Space Zombies from Pluto' - originally 'Spacemen from Pluto' in the script. The studio executives preferred this as the title of the actual film, drawing a parallel with Marty visiting the past as being like an alien. 

Yes, really. 

Thankfully, the producers stuck with the original title, which has much more relevance to the plot, and also just sounds better.

Sometimes, you get ideas from all around you - even from people calling the shots. What is important when faced with an objectively bad idea ('Spaceman From Pluto' - oh boy), is to be constructive in your feedback. 

Burning bridges over creative differences is never a good idea, instead, suggest alternative ideas and express gratitude at the contribution in the first place. 

To mitigate against unhealthy conflict in our creative processes, we ask many questions of the client in the initial meeting(s), so there's no ambiguity of ideas. This leads to a clear pathway forward, and any creative differences are usually minor and manageable.

We love getting new ideas from clients off the back of our own hard work - it's how we grow as a business and make our videos the best. 

I could talk all day about 'Back to the Future' and if somehow you haven't seen it, I encourage you to do so immediately! Go in knowing what you know now - that the film is a superior viewing experience due the challenges that were overcome in its production. 

Challenges are a part of any business too - overcoming them is how we can all make the best of difficult and uncomfortable situations. 

Until next time,

Pete

PS - if you know how many jigawatts it takes to send a man through time, you may like working with us. Click below to get in touch...

 

 

 

Top Three Reasons To Choose Animation For Your Next Video Project

I have always been fascinated with animation. Ever since I was young, watching old Disney films where it was done manually, up to "The Simpsons" and more recently - the magnificent animated creativity and storytelling of "Rick and Morty". 

We produce animated videos not just because we like the way they look, but because they're actually a super versatile digital asset. This post will explain why you should choose animation for your next video.

We have pinned it down to three overarching reasons:

They can be made quickly

Thank goodness we don't live in the days of manual animation like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, because that looked like an absolute nightmare. Months of work to make scenes, years to make a feature film.

The wonders of technology have made production of animation a seamless and dynamic process. On average, our animated videos take 3-6 weeks to produce. That's dedicated storyboarding, animation and post-production.

One thing we do that is similar to what was done in the early days of animation, is hand-drawn storyboards. These give the client an initial 'feel' of what the video will look like. A lot of clients like to know that real artists are busily working away on the right style and graphics that align to their brand and/or product.  

And while we have moved away from template animation style (which is quicker, but ultimately too generic), we can still churn out high quality videos quickly, with multiple people working simultaneously on the project to get it out the door. 
 

It's often the most accessible

When I use the word 'accessible', I mean it in terms of it being able to be experienced by persons with disabilities/impairments. 

We have had the opportunity to work with clients such as the Australian Network on Disability who taught us a lot about accessibility in content, web images and indeed animation.

We have taken that forward into producing our videos, to ensure that colour balance, speed of voiceover speech and text size are all able to be viewed by people with audio and visual impairments. 

An audio-visual-accessible video we produced for the Australian Network on Disability

 

The beauty of the animated video is that you have complete control over all of the variables that can cause issues for accessibility, and we have found it's best and easier to err on the side of making them accessible from the video's inception. 

It's versatile across different channels

You've probably heard that video is an extremely shareable asset, which is true. But 'video' is an all-too-nebulous term. 

Animation is really something that is the most versatile to be shared, but why?

Ultimately it's about editing. With animation, you can construct various lengths of videos more easily, to be shared on different channels.

Have the full length 90 second on your landing page - make a 15 or 30 second clip especially for Twitter or Instagram ads. Go pro and make a 'full version' up to 2 minutes for YouTube. 

This is something that needs to be constructed from the inception of the video, not done after-the-fact. Otherwise, you run into issues of flow and clarity just like any other video project.

Bringing it all together...

So as you can see - there are a few reasons I like animation. Not because of nostalgia and entertainment, but also as a really useful business tool. An animated video can be made quickly, easily, and is appealing to lots of types of viewers, no matter what your niche is. 

Until next time,

Pete

PS - if you like remember and prefer the 'old school' Simpsons, you might like to share this post. 

Interested working together? Get in touch below and see how we can help you.

How Consulting Firms Can Leverage Video For Their Government Clients

Consulting firms are discovering new and engaging ways to win government contracts, and maintain them. This post will tell you how video is a powerful tool to expand your digital capabilities in the government space. 

There are a couple of simple points that video can help you with your government engagement. The first will outline how video you will help you win contracts, and the second will go into how video will keep them.

Let government departments know who you are, and what you do, with video

If you are approaching a government department panel, or even just for a one-off contract and you're not one of 'The Big 4' (Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, KPMG), you'll need something to get ahead. Trust me - they have a lot of materials in their arsenal to win big, not just their reputation.

Big firms have in-house or outsourced digital media teams at their disposal to make them the best and keep them up the top of the pile. Video is increasingly becoming the go-to option for tier 1 and 2 firms to impress government clients. 

What you might not know, though is that video is not just reserved for the big dogs - it's available and powerful for the smaller firms.

Some common misconceptions I have come across about video:

  • It's too expensive;
  • It's too difficult and time consuming to make;
  • It's reserved for digital products / specialised offerings only - what I like to call the
    'Esoteric Enemy'.

Let me dive deeper on these points...

"It's too expensive"

You can produce (well, we can for you) a video that will cost less than what some Sydneysiders pay on parking per month. Seriously.

Your video doesn't have to be a long, waffley piece of garbage. It should be sharp, targeted and effective in winning you business.

Ideally it's something reusable that you can just plug into any bid or email, or have pinned on your website / Facebook / Twitter feed. Live action and animation both work well here - whatever fits your brand the best. 

"It's too difficult and time-consuming"

Not to toot our own horn, but why do you think businesses like Video Spartan exist? We are here to show you that video ISN'T hard or time-consuming.

Firms often make the mistake of 'taking out the middle man' and hire a bevy of cheap freelancers on Upwork or Gumtree to make their video. Go ahead and do that if you want to:

  • Make your video unclear and unprofessional;
  • Get stuck in the weeds of video production and iterative production nightmares;
  • Have your production process exceed 6 months (yes, really).

Platforms like Youtube and Vimeo have levelled the playing field (with the aid of high definition cameras in your pocket) for anyone to make a video easily.

Gone are the days of expensive and lengthy shoots/edits - get it done right, with some polish, and done quickly - and this will make your government clients love you forever, and keep coming back.  

Our experience with working directly with government, is that they obviously want it done right - but also quickly. Quickly is usually the key metric for them. Deadlines.

And as I mentioned, time constraints usually makes the product suffer - but we proudly produce high quality videos in short periods of time. (That one was a two week-er...crazy). 

"The Esoteric Enemy"

Some consulting firms can only see their services within the lens they work in. Some aren't open to the idea of video, because they don't think it can apply to whatever they do. 

We chuckle at this, because that's exactly why you should invest in a video - to make the esoteric message accessible to all. 

Are you primarily enterprise architecture? Awesome, show them your track record of saving government departments millions of dollars. Do you deal more in IT systems design and product development? Great! Advertise your awesome in-house software and implementation steps. 

Another misconception is that firms believe that if they aren't making digital products, then video is therefore irrelevant.

On the contrary - we recently completed a project for a large Australian Government department, which was a paper-based cash flow management tool.
 


Nothing about this product was digital - but we made a video that made the esoteric concept a simple, easy to follow narrative that ended up helping make the firm win a design award (!).
Not bad for plain old paper. 

Sometimes, it comes down to ego. Make them the best.

I'm sure a lot of you remember the Department of Finance video from earlier in 2017. If you can last 30 seconds without cringing, I tip my hat off to you.

Now, this is not the first graduate program video to be produced, and it won't be the last - but one lesson to learn from it, was that it was (overly) flashy and produced, and lacked a real cogent message.

This is because government departments like to look the best to the outside world - even at the expense of alienating the entire generation with whom they are trying to impress. 

It's a shame, because if they had used actors and not 'gov-speak' in the script, it would have been a great insight into what working at Finance would be really like. 

The failure here is not recognising the target audience and linking that with the ultimate goal of the video - to attract young graduates to work at Finance.

Government departments are looking for the best and brightest young minds to join them, and a great video is the gateway for the next generation of pear-and-banana-bread public servants.

Instead, have real interviews that aren't tightly scripted and use b-roll of the office and cafes around - make it real, personable and unpolished.

Or use short animations with some interesting facts that might appeal to potential Finance graduates, with a young voiceover artist guiding them through it. 

This is the kind of video content that can be so powerful and can be the difference between 600 applicants and 6000.  

The point is that you can use good video content, repeatedly, for your government clients. It will add a fantastic dimension to your digital services capabilities (and non-digital services!) and make your consulting firm an agile, professional and impressive enterprise. 

And that's it. If you are a consulting firm undecided about using video for your government clients, consider the above. It's a powerful tool that, if done correctly, can bring you up to the level of your Big 4 competitors.

Until next time,

Pete

PS - If you know the 'estoteric enemy' only exists in your mind, and not reality - you might like to share this post. 

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